NASHVILLE -- Patti Page, the "Singing Rage" who stumbled across Tennessee Waltz and made it one of the bestselling recordings ever, has died. She was 85.
Ms. Page died on New Year's Day in Encinitas, Calif., according to publicist Schatzi Hageman.
Ms. Page was the top-selling female singer of the 1950s with more than 100 million records sold. Her most enduring songs remain Tennessee Waltz, one of two songs the state of Tennessee has officially adopted, and (How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window.
"I was a kid from Oklahoma who never wanted to be a singer, but was told I could sing," she said in a 1999 interview. "And things snowballed."
She created a distinctive sound for the music industry in 1947 by overdubbing her own voice when she didn't have enough money to hire backup singers for the single Confess. She went on to score 15 gold records and three gold albums, with 24 songs in the top 10, including four that reached No. 1.
She was popular in pop music and country and became the first singer to have television programs on all three major networks, including The Patti Page Show on ABC.
In 1999, after 51 years of performing, Ms. Page won her first Grammy for traditional pop vocal performance for Live at Carnegie Hall -- The 50th Anniversary Concert. Ms. Page was planning to attend a special ceremony Feb. 9 in Los Angeles where she was to receive a lifetime achievement award from The Recording Academy.
Ms. Page was born Nov. 8, 1927, as Clara Ann Fowler in Claremore, Okla. The family of three boys and eight girls moved a few years later to nearby Tulsa.
She got her stage name working at radio station KTUL, which had a 15-minute program sponsored by Page Milk Co. The regular Patti Page singer left and was replaced by Ms. Page, who took the name with her on the road to stardom.
Ms. Page is survived by her son, Daniel O'Curran, daughter Kathleen Ginn and sister Peggy Layton.